Eye care

Opticians carry out eye tests to check the quality of your sight. They look for signs of eye disease which may need treatment from a doctor or eye surgeon and prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. 

Ophthalmic medical practitioners are medical doctors trained to carry out eye examinations and prescribe glasses. 

Dispensing opticians fit glasses and contact lenses, but do not test eyes. They can give you advice on types of lens, such as single-vision or bifocal, and help you to choose frames. 

You qualify for a free NHS-funded sight test if you are:

  • aged under 16, or aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education  
  • aged 60 or over
  • registered blind or partially sighted
  • diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • aged 40 or over and you are the parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a person diagnosed with glaucoma, or you have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma
  • eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher.

You are also entitled to a free NHS sight test if you:

  • receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (not contribution based)
  • receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) might also get help.  If you have a valid HC3 Certificate, show it to the optician and ask if you are entitled to any help with the cost. 

Follow this link to find your nearest optician.

Page last updated 04 January 2017